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Be All My Sins Remembered - Review

Be All My Sins Remembered is the 11th episode in Season Four of Stargate Atlantis.

Review

Be All My Sins Remembered will undoubtedly be remembered as a classic Atlantis episode; a well-constructed plot filled with intrigue, conflict and snippets of personal interaction that’s a joy to watch and complemented on every level by every aspect of the production. It is not flawless; the pacing is a little slow at times, the characterisation a little off in places and revisiting the cliché of the whole hero-taken-hostage-by-beautiful-woman was a little unnecessary, but in truth these are minor blemishes on an otherwise polished episode.

My main grumble in regards to characterisation is Sheppard. Given the character’s proclaimed view back in Sateda of thinking of his team as family, here he seems to revert to treating them like they are only colleagues. He provides little support to McKay with Ellis in the initial briefing and his reaction to Teyla’s news lacks any hint of friendship as he removes her from active duty and walks away. They are weird off-notes; it feels uncomfortable. There is perhaps some recognition that Sheppard is acting out of character within the plot as it does supply explanations implicitly in Sheppard’s respect for Ellis and his anger with Teyla allowing Sheppard to unknowingly put her at risk. But it still feels uncomfortable.

The other really uncomfortable moment comes in Sheppard being tied to a chair while he and Larrin negotiate. The more toned down banter between them in the briefing scene and their goodbye is much better executed than this whole redux of the cliché of Travellers. It was unnecessary; the humour is misplaced with Larrin’s outfit back to the screaming ‘Space Vixen’ and the tying up of Sheppard just bizarre. I think the character dynamic is interesting but there is a worrying hint that the intention is to play it as an opportunity for cheap, sexual innuendo and an easy gag which does neither character any favours. In this episode, that way of playing it was so out of place it is also jarring. If humour was wanted then the Wraith threatening to feed on McKay was more the way to go; witty, clever and amusing.

The other minor blemish is the pacing. In places, it is perfect – the whole sequence of the battle, the super-blob and resolution is extremely well-done; the opening teaser is good. Yet in other places there is lethargy. Perhaps because there feels like there is no immediate threat to Atlantis within the story; the briefings which provide exposition slow up the action pieces; the direction and acting sees the characters relatively relaxed and at ease as the plan comes together rather than acting with a sense of urgency – there is no deadline to achieving anything until well into the battle itself.

The other problem with the pacing is the overall sense of the season arcs. The arc created in reinitiating the Replicators code to attack the Wraith but that going wrong with them turning on the human food supply and ultimately Atlantis destroying the Replicators and putting things right again had the potential to run for an entire season. This resolution feels too quick. It feels like having been baked a wonderful chocolate cake, I’ve given in and eaten it early rather than waiting for dinner and no matter how good the cake tasted, in eating it early, I’ve ruined what could have been a greater moment of satisfaction later.

Equally, while I am thrilled that Teyla’s pregnancy has finally been revealed, the lack of mention of said pregnancy and her search for her people since The Seer almost gives it a ‘so what’ quality. I applaud the arc approach in play in Atlantis rather than the weekly episodic stand alone stories of the past but arcs need to be timed correctly in terms of laying the foundation, keeping the arc in the audiences’ mind, when to take them forward, when to complete. I don’t think they’ve quite got that right here and it will be interesting to see what happens with the arcs in the final half of the season.

For all my complaints, Be All My Sins Remembered, is a well-executed episode. The story is well-constructed with the events transpiring in a well-thought out fashion. There is humour in places and there is conflict. The revisit to Ellis/McKay antipathy in First Strike is well played. The character moments especially Ronon’s gentle support of Teyla after her revelation of her pregnancy is wonderful; the hand holding lovely. The introduction of FRAN is a fantastic idea that adds a great nuance to the story and is very well portrayed. FRAN is so well conceived and there is such great chemistry between her and McKay that there is a sense of disappointment that we won’t see her again.

The other aspect of the episode that truly sings is the special effects. While the battles and amalgamation of the super-blob are fabulously executed, the subtle Replicator nanite block dissolving into a liquid state and the remnants of the planet in space are equally impressive. They are not the only things well-executed. The music throughout is great but I especially love the segment that underscores the march of the Wraith into the puddle-jumper. The characterisation of Sam is joyous with both her command ability, her scientific prowess and her very female reaction to Teyla’s news – ‘who’s the father’ showing a rounded version of Sam. The teaser of Weir seemingly in charge of a Replicator ship that avoided detection at the end provides a titillating teaser that I hope is followed up. It all adds a polish over the finished episode.

The subject of Be All My Sins Remembered, the winning nature of the story, the spectacular feast of special effects all makes for a classic episode. It is not flawless and the polished nature of the final production cannot hide that but it is a very enjoyable outing and one that will be remembered.
 

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